Belgium - Full Moon 190 - 03/08/12
A High, Happy, Perverse And Cynical Cry Of Joy
Ah, the 1980s. Everyone was allowed to create any kind of music for anyone who was interested, because recording equipment, small synthesizers, rhythm boxes and other electronic gadgets suddenly was a lot cheaper. And every musical whim was allowed... Here is a prime example of what was going on in the 1980s underground. Bene Gesserit was in the front of the international cassette movement. Instrumentalist Alain Neffe, aka. B. GHoLa, had established his Insane Music Contact and released quite a few volumes of Insane Music For Insane People and Home-Made Music For-Home Made People with contributions from insane and home-made people all over Europe and some overseas, too. Recordings by Bene Gesserit were included on most of the volumes, but the duo had greater ambitions. Here is a relaunch on CD of Bene Gesserit's first LP, originally released by Alain himself on his Insane label in 1985 with three bonus tracks off Bene Gesserit's first seven inch vinyl platter from 1982 and BG's contribution to a split single from 1986. You can read about Alain's, Insane's and the band's origins and development in an interview he gave to Luna Kafé a few years back.
The music of the album reflects its title. It can be both happy, perverse, joyful and includes cries and other vocal gambols. And once you get into it, Bene Gesserit's music may turn you high. But I'm not convinced about the cynical part. On the contrary, the happy cries and other notions sound completely non-cynical; playful, even naïve occasionally. Maybe the inclusion of "La Brabançonne", the Belgian national anthem, being tortured, might sound cynical to some... Otherwise a few of the 18 songs in all included here, might fit in the 1980s overground synth-pop-category. But the whims go further than that; here is quite a lot of experimental stuff, music based on real strings, flutes or saxophone. And the vocal excesses of front woman BeNeDiCT G., aka Nadine Bal, exceed every limit.
Three of the songs off the original LP made it to the previous archive album of Bene Gesserit released by EE Tapes, Live In Aachen. Two of them are about the catchiest here, and the closest to synth-pop. "Tonight" is potential hit material, melodic, funny and a bit melancholic, English lyrics, but with a French-Belgian feel all the same. "Walt's Waltz" is another melancholic ditty with an insane vocal touch. "Désirs-Délires" was labelled hysteric sort of avant garde-minimalism in the Aachen review and sounds like that in the studio environment, too. The short "Strange Strangers (In The Night)" belongs to the same category - only backwards - whereas "Pravda" also inhibits vocal madness, coupled with sweet-melancholic synth. The vocals of the remaining songs are closer to sanity, but some are compensated with instrumental craziness instead, like "Existentialisme" with strange noises, occasional saxophone belches, hectic rhythm box and synths. A couple of songs have more than a touch of east Asia. "Japanese Song" sounds both authoritarian and the opposite, with vocoder effects and all, until it's rounded off with denial: 'This is not a Japanese song!'... On the other hand, the overall feel of "No Rule For A Dream: Bali" is more childish and innocent than ethnic. There's an instrumental here as well, nice and melodic, but with sounds from someone preparing a meal, called "Kitchen Music (For Kitchen People)", obviously! A sort of domestic cousin of Beach Boys' carpenter tune "Workshop", off Smile. The remaining tracks might be characterised somewhere between synth-pop
and experimental efforts. "Nuit Et Chuchotements" is in a class of its own with repetitive real strings (an Indian instrument called tarang), real percussion, close whispers and distant intense howls and growls. "Clear Blue Smile" also stands out with sharp rhythms, ditto synth-blips and angelic whispers and choruses hovering high in the sky.
The bonus songs follow the same synth-pop-path-with-a-twist as most of the LP tracks. The production of the songs of the LP sounds a little bit fresher than the two songs off the 1982 debut 7 inch single "Kidnapping" and "Orchestral Story", whereas the occasional grand "Sahid Bahey" off the 1986 single sounds even fresher.
When I received this disc, I was afraid it might sound outdated. Well, it's without any doubt a creation of the 1980s, but outdated, no way! The songs, arrangements and production have stood the test of time and listening to the songs today, puts me in as joyous, high, happy and perverse moods as 26 years ago. Another most welcomed
album from EE Tapes then. Limited to 500 copies, so don't wait too long. And I guess there are enough Bene Gesserit recordings in the Insane vaults, maybe including fresh recordings from the 2010s, too, to keep Eriek at EET busy and the rest of us on the alert for several years to come.
Copyright © 2012 JP